How to sort your finances for living independently

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Whether you’re moving out because of a new job, for university or simply seeking independence, living independently for the first time can be both exciting and daunting, especially when it comes to managing finances.

If you’re interested in taking MyBnk’s free, in-depth course on independent living, called The Money House, email:  TheMoneyHouse@mybnk.org

Otherwise, in this article, we’ll highlight some of the key cost of living independently to be aware of and consider and give you three top tips to help navigate this new chapter successfully.

Financial considerations:

The cost of moving
This might include a rent deposit, transport costs, furniture purchases, and other relocation expenses. Try to estimate the costs beforehand and have a budget to help you plan and save for the transition.

Rent
This is likely to be one of your most significant monthly expenses when moving out. It’s important to understand the terms of your lease agreement, including the monthly rent amount, due date, and any additional fees or deposits.

If you’re unclear about anything in your lease contract, contact Citizens Advice in Scotland, England or Wales or Housing Rights in Northern Ireland.

Utilities
This involves setting up electricity, gas, water and internet accounts with suppliers. Take time to use comparison websites to look for better deals and don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or contract lengths.

It might be helpful to set up automatic payments or reminders for bill due dates – this can help you avoid late fees and maintain a good credit score (you can read about why that’s important here.)

Council Tax
This tax is required by local authorities in the UK to fund local services like garbage collection, road maintenance, and schools. Make sure the names of all residents are included on the bill.

If you’re a full-time student at college or university, then you’re exempt from paying council tax. Student halls of residence are automatically exempt, but otherwise you must provide evidence to your council each year. If all but one person is a student, then the property must pay council tax, but will receive a 25% discount.

Insurance
You might want to consider buying insurance for any high value items you own, such as a laptop, camera, mobile or jewellery. If they are stolen or damaged, you’ll be able to replace them without a huge, unexpected cost. This article by MoneyHelper goes into more detail.

Groceries
Plan meals and create grocery lists to avoid overspending on food. Cook at home as much as possible to save money and maintain a healthy diet. Consider buying generic, supermarket-own brands to maximise savings.

Emergency fund
Save up an emergency fund as a financial safety net to help you handle unexpected expenses or challenging times if they arise

Start small by setting aside a portion of your income each month until you reach your target savings goal – don’t worry if it takes you a while to build it up, keep going and don’t touch your emergency fund except in an emergency.

Your existing financial commitments are likely to continue, such as transport, any debt repayments, social activities and various subscriptions. Don’t forget to budget them in too.

By considering and budgeting for these different financial considerations, you can better prepare yourself for the financial challenges of living on your own. Here are some top tips to help you get off to a good start.

Three top tips

Create a new budget

As with any financial life changes, it’s time to create a new budget to fit your new circumstances. If you don’t have one already, it’s more important than ever to have a budget.

You can read our article: How do I make a basic budget for myself?

Be prepared to adjust your budget over the first couple of months as you settle into your new home – keep fine-tuning it until it’s realistic and works for you. 

Make your house a home

Make your new living space somewhere you enjoy spending time. This will encourage you to cook more of your own meals, invite friends over rather than always going out and boost your general wellbeing, which often improves spending habits.

Consider:

  • Personalising the decor
  • Finding storage-solutions that help keep the place tidy
  • Buying cleaning supplies that make the job easier

All of these can cost money, so you might want to spread them out over a few months.

Seek financial education and advice

Take the time to educate yourself about personal finance concepts and best practices to make informed decisions about your money.

  • Read trusted sources, such as the Money Ready knowledge base or MoneyHelper.org.uk
  • listen to podcasts
  • take a short course on topics like budgeting, saving, investing, and debt management
  • MyBnk also runs a free, in-depth course called the Money House that covers all aspects of manage your money when living independently and maintain your tenancy.
  • There are also plenty of organisations that offer free, impartial advice on all sorts of money matters. So make use of their services and learn from their expertise.

Understanding financial principles will empower you to make smart financial choices and build a solid foundation for your financial future.

Summary

To recap, moving out to live on your own for the first time comes with a set of financial commitments that require careful planning and management.

By creating a budget, making your house your home, and seeking financial education, you can start on the right track with your money and make a smooth transition into independent living.

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